In his first week on the job, new Attorney General Michael Mukasey has reopened a long-stalled Justice Dept. investigation into the National Security Administration's domestic wiretapping program, The Los Angeles Times reports.
The internal probe will investigate whether Justice lawyers acted unethically or broke laws in reviewing the program. President Bush put a halt to the very same investigation by refusing to grant security clearances to investigators. The White House said at the time that the additional clearancs would be a security risk, even though investigators had been granted clearances in the past.
The reincarnation of the probe coincides with Wednesday's ceremonial swearing in by Chief Justice John Roberts.
The probe was disclosed in a one-paragraph letter to Congress by H. Marshall Jarrett, the counsel in charge of the professional responsibility office:
"We recently received the necessary clearances and are now able to proceed with our investigation," Jarrett wrote.
Members of Congress are looking forward to the results.
"I think this is going to be very revealing," said Rep. Maurice D. Hinchey (D-N.Y.), one of 40 lawmakers who had sought the original probe. "I don't think there are any security risks involved here. The risk is the basic principle of the Constitution, which protects the people of this country from intrusions by the government. This is a government that aspires to be despotic and do whatever they want."